Louis Landon is an extraordinarily talented and versatile composer/musician who is also a very good friend. He recently released his ten-year retrospective (nine-year, actually, but who’s counting???), Ten Years: A Peaceful Solo Piano Retrospective
, and has already recorded a new release, Sedona On My Mind
, scheduled to be released this fall. Also known as The Solo Pianist for Peace, Louis suggested updating the interview we did in 2008 because he had a number of things he wanted to talk about. We did this candid interview via email in late-June and early-July.
Click album covers to read the reviews.
KP: Hey Louis! Can you believe it’s been more than five years since our first interview? Where does the time go?
LL: Yes, pretty amazing. Time flies when you're having fun. Even if you're not having fun, the older one gets the faster it goes. There are a number of theories as to why time seems to move more quickly as one ages. Bernard Berenson, the art historian, was 86 years old when he said, "I don't know why I put my clothes on in the morning because before I know it, it's time to go to sleep." Now that's fast! I once wrote a song called "Where Does the Time Go" that dealt precisely with that subject. I could go into some of the theories here, but how about we save that for another day. ;-)
KP: We could do a long interview on that subject alone! So, are you excellent and doing better all the time today?
LL: Absolutely! Sometimes I'm super fine and better all the time. And other times I'm twice as good as yesterday and 1/2 as good as tomorrow. Better with each passing moment also works.
(For those who don’t know Louis, any time you ask him how he is, you will invariably get one of the above responses. Gotta love it!) I just reviewed your new CD, Ten Years: A Peaceful Solo Piano Retrospective
- and love it. Let’s talk about it.
LL: It's my solo piano greatest hits. <hehe> I took what I thought were the best tracks from my six solo piano CDs, which were recorded over the past nine years. I liked the sound of ten years, so I took a little creative license.
KP: It will be ten years before you know it! How did you choose which pieces to include?
Some were my favorites and some were the most popular with fans. Choosing the tracks wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I had to leave out some pieces that I really would have liked on there.
One of my all-time favorite pieces of yours is “Etude for Mother Earth” from your last album, Peaceful Solo Piano From the Heart
. I was surprised that wasn’t included. I know, you have too many really great pieces to include them all - especially on the last few albums!
LL: Thank you Kathy. I feel the same way. I feel like I am getting better with age, like a fine wine. ;-) I'm glad you like "Etude for Mother Earth"! It is one of my favorites in the direction of classically composed music. I would have included it if I had performed it better on the CD. It was a case of composing music that was above my level of technical ability. I play it faster and much more precisely now, but when I recorded it, I had just written it, and quite frankly, I don't think I fully realized the piece.
KP: You sure hit it out of the ballpark when you played it here last year! I’ll be looking forward to that one again when you come in August. You seem to have a passionate, if somewhat whimsical, relationship with the Adirondack chair that is pictured on your new CD cover. The Chair even has a Facebook page. How did this evolve?
LL: Thank you Kathy, regarding my "hitting it out of the ballpark" at my concert last year! Hoping for a grand slam this year. hehe When my wife and I separated, which was almost four years ago, I moved into a cabin in the woods. It's my Walden. I can play my piano 24/7 and I felt good about living alone for the first time in my life. The cabin came complete with two Adirondack chairs. One of the chairs became my place to go (weather permitting) to sit and contemplate and basically chill. I love photography. Did you know that I was once a pro photographer?
KP: I had no idea!
In fact, there was a time when I was in college that I considered going into photography and giving up music. Glad I didn't. Anyway, back to The Chair. I started taking pictures of The Chair at different times of the year: covered in snow, buried in beautiful fall foliage, etc. And I would post those pictures on Facebook. People really enjoyed those pictures and started putting up photos of their own chairs. So, it evolved into a Facebook page of its own called Friends of the Chair facebook.com/FriendsOfTheChair
. Doing the retrospective made me think of the passing of time and the different seasons, and that was that.
KP: It sounds like you have gone through some incredibly challenging ordeals the past two or three years. How has that affected your mission in life and your music?
Yes, we have discussed some of that and I'm at the point of my life where I'm comfortable talking about it. As I mentioned above, I had to come to terms with many areas of my life when I dealt with living alone. The biggest thing is that, in the past, I had never felt good when I was alone. Learning to be a complete and joyous being all by myself, with no girlfriend or wife or significant other, was something new for me. Part of that realization is that to depend on anything external for one's internal happiness will never result in true inner peace.
KP: We live in a society geared toward couples. It takes some time to get comfortable with living alone. Once you reach that mindset, though, it’s really kind of nice! I know exactly what you’re talking about, though. Been there!
LL: Regarding my mission of peace: to create a more loving and peaceful world by writing, recording and performing music from the heart, finding my internal peace strengthened my resolve to take my music further out into the world. I have also recently come up with a new mission: to inspire people to live joyously and passionately. At first, I thought I would have to replace my old mission with my new mission. Then I realized that there are really no rules in this area and now I am working with the two missions simultaneously.
KP: I’m sure the world will become a better place because of it. You have mentioned to me several times that you were in a bad way with alcohol and prescription drugs a few years ago. Let’s talk about that.
LL: Again, I am ready to talk about this publicly for the first time in my life. The bad way wasn't limited to just a few years ago. The reality of my life, when I look back on it, is that I suffered from depression and feelings of low self-esteem for 44 years. I started drinking and doing drugs when I was 14 years old. I was self-medicating in hopes of feeling better. But what I finally realized 2 1/2 years ago, is that alcohol is not my friend. It's a depressant and for someone who has the tendency to be depressed, drinking is not a good thing to do.
KP: What was your motivation to kick the habits?
LL: In 1992, I was prescribed medication for my depression. I had to come to terms with the idea that I might be on meds for the rest of my life, but when I left my marriage, my depression started to lift and I found that I could decrease my medication. I spoke to my doctor about it, and he thought that I might be able to get off the medication and that it was worth a try. It took a few months, but by January of 2010, I managed to get off all medication AND I stopped drinking. Everything changed in my life when I got off the meds and stopped drinking. My spiritual work took a turn for the better in terms of my Consciousness and ability to live my life in the moment, and I was filled with positivity for the first time in my life that I could remember.
Thank you for sharing all of this, Louis! You might be helping someone in similar circumstances by telling your story. How has all of this affected your music? I definitely noticed a profound change in the music on last year’s Peaceful Solo Piano From the Heart
. What was different about how you approached the music on that album?
I believe my new state of being has changed my music, especially in terms of my writing. I have stretched harmonically, melodically and technically. I have written things that were above my level of playing so that I have had to practice just to be able to play what I have written. Also, I am really trying to go deeper emotionally and put that into the music so that the listener can go to where I am when I write and play.
Louis and me in Florence, OR. 8/12
Louis and me in Florence, OR. 8/11
KP: I understand that you have another new album due to be released later this year. Let’s talk about that.
LL: I really wasn't planning to record another album as I just released the retrospective in May, but I was writing a lot of music and I decided that I had to get that stuff recorded. I went to Joe Bongiorno's Piano Haven Studio in Sedona at the end of May and got everything recorded. Then I went back again in June (hmm, must be something going on in Sedona ). The album was originally going to be called Wide Open Spaces for a song that I composed in Colorado, but then I wrote a song called "Sedona on My Mind," and that ended up being the first track on the album and also the name of the album. I've been out in Sedona a lot lately.
KP: Okay, Louis, this is too much mystery! What keeps calling you back to Sedona? Or is it who???
LL: All right, I'll tell you, but don't tell anyone. ;-) Besides the intriguing beauty of Sedona, I met a woman there in March of this year and in a very short time it was clear to both of us that we needed to get know each other. It's exciting yet calm, fun and deep, and feels right. She has a good job that she likes in Sedona and I know that I will be able to figure out a way to make a living there through music. When I told my girls (women really, at 22 and 24) about the possibility of moving to Sedona, they said, "Oh good, we'll have a nice place to visit you."
KP: I hope it is all you want it to be! Although you currently live on the east coast, I think you have performed here in Florence, OR almost every year that I’ve been here, and you are scheduled for another concert here on August 15th. What are your Northwest tour stops this time?
LL: I love performing at your house!! Can't wait to see you! Yes, this will be my sixth year at your house! I have been doing Northwest tours for six years now. This year I won't make it to Seattle, but I will be in Wenatchee and Spokane for five concerts; Eugene, Bend and Florence in Oregon for four concerts; the Bay Area for three concerts; and then down to LA for two concerts. When I get down to LA, I'm flying my kids out to see my folks, who live in North Hollywood. Really looking forward to that tour!
KP: If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?
LL: 1. to continue to live my missions and fully develop as a human. 2. to Love and be Loved unconditionally 3. World Peace -- #1 is a moment to moment effort. At long last, I have #2, and #3 is a work in progress for the rest of my life, to change the world one listener at a time.
KP: Anything else???
Let me think about that for a little bit... ;-)
For more information about Louis Landon and his music, be sure to visit his website
and his Artist Page
here on MainlyPiano.com. Click here
for our interview in 2008.